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Sharing HEARTS


Personal stories are a powerful tool for enacting change. Impacted families and loved ones can add a human dimension to research and statistics. HEARTS Network survivor advocates are encouraged to share their personal stories. Through sharing, we remember those who have been impacted and we connect with others who are on a similar journey.

Below are some of the personal stories HEARTS Network families and victims have shared. Each is unique but carries the same message: teen driving can deeply impact anyone and change is possible.


Andrea, then 16


Andrea had been driving independently for nearly three months when she crashed while trying to turn left in a busy intersection near her home. Despite serious injuries, she has made a full recovery and wants to raise awareness about teen driving issues.



Andrew, 17

Andrew was one of several passengers in a vehicle driven by a newly-licensed driver. The driver dropped his cell phone and lost control as he reached to retrieve it. The vehicle crashed, and Andrew and another teen were killed.



Anthony A., 16

On the night of homecoming, 2009, Anthony was riding with a newly-licensed teen who misjudged a passing vehicle as he entered a busy intersection. The driver threw the car in reverse and drove backwards at about 40 mph, hitting a sign, cable box and, eventually, a guard rail. The car flipped over and landed in a canal. Anthony passed away.


Anthony F., 18

Anthony was a passenger in his friend's vehicle. The 17-year-old driver was driving recklessly, weaving in and out of traffic and speeding, and lost control of the vehicle. The car slammed into a tree. The driver sustained minor injuries, but Anthony died minutes after the crash.

Ben, 17


Ben was driving home from school in a rush because he did not want to be late for work. Ben took the corner near his home too fast and crashed into a utility pole. Ben passed away at the scene.



Brian, 16

Brian climbed into a vehicle with a friend who wanted to race his car to see how fast it could go. At some point, despite having only a learner's permit, Brian got behind the wheel. He lost control of the vehicle, hit the wall of an underpass, knocked down an electrical pole and eventually slammed into a tree. Brian died at the scene.


Caleb, 18

Caleb was driving to meet a friend and shop for Christmas presents when he received and read a text message. While he was returning it, Caleb swerved into oncoming traffic and collided with a vehicle. He died at the scene.



Chelsea, 11, and Cindy, 45


Cindy and Chelsea were leaving a parking lot and pulling onto an eight lane state road when a 19 year old struck their minivan. The impact pushed the minivan into oncoming traffic where another vehicle struck it. All three vehicles burst into flames. Chelsea and Cindy were killed.



David, then 35

David was driving home with his family along a two-lane rural road when he collided with a teen driver who was distracted by his text message. David sustained significant injuries in the crash and needed months to recover.



Donovan, 16

Donovan was one of several passengers in a vehicle driven by a teen who began speeding and lost control. The vehicle slammed into a tree and Donovan, who was riding unbelted in the back seat, was ejected. He passed away at the scene.



Garison, 14

Garison was a 14-year-old boy from Texas who rode with a newly-licensed teen friend to the gas station after church services. The station was less than 1 mile from the church, but the boys never made it. The driver was speeding, lost control of the vehicle and hit a tree. Both boys were killed.



Hunter, 14

Hunter was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a newly-licensed teen who lost control of his vehicle on a windy, mountain road. The vehicle crashed into a tree, and Hunter was killed instantly.



Joe, then 16

Joe left his parent’s house and was driving down a rural road when he lost control of his vehicle. Joe survived the crash but was in and out of the hospital for months. He now travels with his mother, Nancy, to various schools, driver’s education classes and national summits to speak about the dangers of teen driving.

John, 56

John was an avid motorcyclist, devoted father and dedicated firefighter. He was riding home from work at night on his motorcycle when a teen driver distracted by her cell phone conversation ran a stop sign and collided with him. John died at the scene.



Johnny, 19

Johnny was returning home from seeing a friend on Christmas Day, 2004. As he was driving through the Onondaga Indian Reservation, Johnny lost control of his car and crashed into a utility pole. He died at the scene.



Josh, 19

Josh was riding with an inexperienced driver who began speeding. The driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed. He suffered only scrapes and bruises, but Josh was killed. 



Justin, 17


Justin was one of a few passengers in a vehicle driven by an inexperienced teen who was following a car full of his friends. The two vehicles collided when the car carrying Justin's friends made an unexpected turn.  The teen driving the car Justin was riding in lost control. and went airborne before rolling several times. Justin was ejected and passed away.


Katie, 16

Katie was riding home in a vehicle driven by her teenage boyfriend. He fell asleep at the wheel and crashed. Katie was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. She passed away a few hours after the crash.



Katie M., then 16

Katie was riding with a friend to a party and the girls put their cell phone on speaker to listen to directions. Distracted by the cell phone call, the driver missed her exit and lost control of the vehicle. It flipped four times before coming to a rest. Katie sustained severe injuries and now is quadriplegic.



Kelsey, 17

Kelsey was driving and talking with a friend on her cell phone when she decided to pass the vehicle in front of her. She misjudged the amount of time she had to safely pass and tried to get back into her lane. While doing so, Kelsey overcorrected, lost control and was T-boned by another vehicle. Kelsey died just months before she was scheduled to graduate alongside her twin sister.

Kyleigh, 16

Kyleigh was riding with two friends in a vehicle driven by a 17 year old. The driver lost control and crashed, and the impact killed both the driver and Kyleigh. In the years since Kyleigh's death, her mother has worked on various pieces of legislation to strengthen teen driving restrictions in New Jersey.

In April 2007, Lacey and several friends left their senior prom headed to a post-prom celebration in the Poconos. They never made it. Their vehicle crashed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, killing Lacey.


Luke, 15

Luke was riding with an inexperienced teen driver who began speeding down a dangerous road on the side of a Georgia mountain. The driver was trying to make the car go airborne when he lost control and went off an embankment. Luke was killed just a few days before he would have turned 16.



Max, 16

Max was driving alone down a familiar street near his house one rainy Saturday morning. He was on his way to a Boy Scout meeting where he would be working with younger scouts as a requirement to earning Eagle Scout rank. Max lost control on the slick roads, crashed into a fence lining an equestrian center and passed away.


Owen, 8

On St. Patrick’s Day, 2011, Owen was leaving a band concert. While crossing the street with his family, a distracted teen driver struck and killed him. Owen was heading to McDonald’s to buy a Shamrock Shake with a dollar bill his grandfather had given him for good behavior during the concert.

Tim, 18

On Nov. 14, 2007, Tim was driving home from work. He sped over railroad tracks near his home and lost control of the vehicle, crashing into a utility pole. Tim battled for his life for four months before passing away in February, 2008.


Tyler, 19

Tyler was driving through a darkened construction zone that was poorly marked and lacked traffic controls. He was driving around a curve when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into construction debris. Tyler passed away.



Veronica, 17

Veronica was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a teen at night down a rural road on Aug. 13, 1997. The driver was speeding and lost control of the vehicle. Veronica was ejected and died at the scene. She was not wearing a seat belt.




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